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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2007, Article ID 57128, 24 pages
Research Article

Quality Evaluation in Flexible Manufacturing Systems: A Markovian Approach

1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Center for Manufacturing, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40506, KY, USA
2Manufacturing Systems Research Lab, General Motors Research and Development Center, General Motors Corporation, Warren 48090-9055, MI, USA

Received 16 March 2007; Accepted 9 May 2007

Academic Editor: P. T. Kabamba

Copyright © 2007 Jingshan Li and Ningjian Huang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The flexible manufacturing system (FMS) has attracted substantial amount of research effort during the last twenty years. Most of the studies address the issues of flexibility, productivity, cost, and so forth. The impact of flexible lines on product quality is less studied. This paper intends to address this issue by applying a Markov model to evaluate quality performance of a flexible manufacturing system. Closed expressions to calculate good part probability are derived and discussions to maintain high product quality are carried out. An example of flexible fixture in machining system is provided to illustrate the applicability of the method. The results of this study suggest a possible approach to investigate the impact of flexibility on product quality and, finally, with extensions and enrichment of the model, may lead to provide production engineers and managers a better understanding of the quality implications and to summarize some general guidelines of operation management in flexible manufacturing systems.